Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Man on dole 'took £42,000 from Ulster Bank cash machine'

Ulster Bank

A man was able to remove more than £40,000 from an Ulster Bank ATM in one day in the early stages of the computer meltdown, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The man, who is understood to be a foreign national and on benefits, is believed to have secured the sum after visiting a cash machine on the Shankill Road more than 80 times on the same day.

It is understood that the man returned to the bank the following day to attempt to collect his benefits. Police have confirmed they are aware of the incident. It is believed he withdrew up to £42,000 in total.

The news comes as Ulster Bank chairman Jim Brown revealed he would not be taking his annual bonus this year.

Ulster Bank, which is still dealing with the massive backlog of customer accounts, has confirmed there were problems with cash machines for some time after IT problems began on June 19.

“We are aware of some customers, who for a short period, had access and chose to withdraw funds in excess of their account balance through some ATMs,” the spokesman said.

“We can confirm that all transactions carried out at affected ATMs were posted to customer accounts.”

It is up to the bank whether they decide to pursue criminal charges against the man for theft.

A PSNI spokeswoman said that officers had been called to an incident at an ATM machine on the Shankill Road around 8pm on June 22.

She added: “Police liaised with the bank and the bank ATM was put out of service.”

Tens of thousands of Ulster Bank customers have been in financial turmoil since a computer glitch left them unable to access their accounts.

The technical failure on June 19 affected clients across the Royal Bank of Scotland group, which includes RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank.

But while the problems at RBS and NatWest were rectified, customers in Northern Ireland and Ireland are still facing an additional two weeks of account misery.

RBS bosses have said they are “working round the clock” to bring the backlog up-to-date and to help those Ulster Bank customers who are facing genuine difficulties as a result of the fiasco.

However, Chris Sullivan, chief operating officer of corporate banking at RBS, said that there had been attempts to profiteer from the situation.

Giving evidence to members of the enterprise, trade and investment committee at Stormont yesterday, he added that in some cases people had been withdrawing more money than they had in their accounts.

As news of the Ulster Bank debacle spread, the Belfast Telegraph received early reports of cash machines malfunctioning.

One Ulster Bank account holder contacted us on June 24 to say that ATMs in Armagh were issuing extra money to those using Ulster Bank cards. He added that some people were taking out thousands of pounds because accounts weren’t being updated, which meant it was possible to make withdrawals over and over again if your balance was in credit.



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